PASADENA, California — How do you reinvent a classic?
It's a question producers Andy Gould and Malek Akkad have been pondering since they began work on Rob Zombie's "Halloween," the buzzed-about reimagining that opens in theaters August 31 (see "Rob Zombie Talks 'Halloween': 'A Bloodbath Doesn't Interest Me' "). The director's righthand man, Gould, has collaborated with Zombie since his music days. Akkad is the new keeper of the flame: His influential father, Moustapha Akkad, was an executive producer of the 1978 original and died in a 2005 terrorist bombing.
Standing on the front lawn of Laurie Strode's "house," Gould and Akkad talked about remaking a classic — while also offering thoughts on the original flick, hiring the new blood and where Michael Myers' killing spree goes from here.
MTV: Malek, your father turned "Halloween" into the highest-grossing independent movie ever made. Talk about what Michael Myers means to your family.
Malek Akkad: Well, the first film obviously is John Carpenter's masterpiece. My father was involved with him and developed and greenlit it basically, and [my dad] was involved with all of them. This is the fifth "Halloween" film I've worked on. It's a family tradition — our family legacy.
MTV: And clearly, this experience is very different from the last four.
Akkad: Very different from any of them, really. We are taking the core elements from the original and filtering them through Rob Zombie. The first one is a classic, and it will always be a classic — but this is a very different movie.
MTV: Andy, you've produced all of Rob's movies. How did you guys decide that this was the proper next step for him?
Andy Gould: We all had a collective sit-down about it, and we've had great success with "House of 1,000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects," and we saw a lot of things being remade. A couple of them, I thought, were OK, but many seemed like people were doing these note-for-note remakes. ... [Our remake] is more like "Batman Begins," in the way they really told you the back story.
MTV: Malek, was your father aware of Rob Zombie's hiring before his passing?
Akkad: No, he wasn't aware even that we were going to take this angle. We had decided that we were going to do another sequel; for various reasons the timing just felt right. That was one consideration at his passing. ... I know he would be really excited and thrilled to see it. This was his baby, and he loved it.
MTV: As the new keeper of the franchise, when you hired Rob Zombie and knew he wanted to reimagine things, what were the hallmarks that had you saying, "Just don't go messing with this stuff"?
Akkad: Well Rob is great. He knew it all on his own. But, of course, Dr. Loomis, who is the eternal protagonist chasing Michael, he is our hero (see "Exclusive: Malcolm McDowell, The New Dr. Loomis, Talks 'Halloween' "). And then you have the Laurie Strode character (see " 'Halloween' Star Scout Taylor-Compton Calls Michael Myers 'Cute,' Talks Sequel"), who was made famous by Jamie Lee Curtis. Then there's Michael — you can't have one of these without Michael. He really is our star (see "Tyler Mane Hopes To Be 'Scariest Michael Ever' In Rob Zombie's 'Halloween' ").
MTV: Andy, give us a peek at what exactly Rob is reimagining.
Gould: It's a peek into the mind of a serial killer. That's the thing — sometimes if you read books about real serial killers, their stories are more extraordinary than anything you've ever seen in the movies. It's what they have been through that leads them to become a Michael Myers.
MTV: So is he going to be one of these kids who was beaten up by his parents or molested or something like that?
Gould: Well, some of that stuff you'll have to look at the movie for. ... People will be really happy with what they are seeing because it keeps the mystery, but it gives you some clues.
MTV: Malek, you can remember Donald Pleasance creating the Loomis character, then playing him right up until he died during "Halloween 6." How do you feel watching another legendary actor slip into the trench coat?
Akkad: Malcolm McDowell, every line he says is amazing. His interaction with all the other actors is wonderful, because he really has fun with the part. I don't want to say he improvs, but he ad libs a bit here and there, so he keeps the other actors on edge, and that makes for an exciting scene every time. Donald really took it so seriously — which I loved about the guy, God bless him. He loved that character, and he used to say that he would keep going until we got to sequel number 22. He took it so seriously. He was the word-for-word guy — every word was so heavy — whereas Malcolm has a little more fun with it.
MTV: Scout Taylor-Compton had to audition for you guys several times — and obviously, finding a person to step into Curtis' shoes is difficult. What did you see in her?
Gould: We talked to Rob on a daily basis, along with Malek, and we looked at some people. There is a thing in Hollywood of casting the new, young, hot actress — Paris Hilton-type people. That thing is prominent right now. ... But Rob wanted to have people that looked like they were real people — that's something all the three principal girls have. You look at them and you think, "These are actually people." ... If you play it too glamorous, the audience doesn't care if they live or die. In fact, they may be rooting for them to die.
Akkad: Scout is such a trooper. She reminds me of Jamie Lee when we started working with her because [Curtis] was about the same age, and we put her through the wringer. She ended up bruised and battered. With Scout, we're pulling her through windows and throwing her down into pools. She wants to do all her own stunts! She's really got something. I see a huge future for her.
MTV: How many movies are you hoping to get out of "Halloween"?
Gould: [Rob and I] just want to make one good one. So come along for the ride — it's going to be great.
Akkad: We'll have to wait and see what happens with this one. The fans love it so much that, as long as there is that fan interest, we want to give them what they like. We want to give them the ride that they enjoy. We will see what the reaction is to this one, and hopefully there will be more.
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